The average Kiwi spends a huge amount of time working. An indicative calculation of an average working week of 40 hours, for a 44 year working life, adds up to at least 91,250 hours or 22.4% of their lives working.
As politicians we spend a lot of time looking at the job market from a statistical or policy perspective. We look at the overall unemployment levels and why so many Kiwis are struggling to find work. We look at government policy and how we can grow our economy. We look at the trends of youth unemployment, the numbers of Kiwi workers moving to Australia, and the growing skills deficit.
Unfortunately, we often don’t get the time to highlight the real stuff that is happening day-in, day-out for Kiwis in the workplace. As Labour’s Employment spokesperson I’m going to start posting on a weekly basis about the problems, successes, aspirations and obstacles Kiwis are facing in real-time. I am keen on your feedback and your stories. I think your personal experiences of the challenges and struggles in finding employment, or gaining the skills that will enable you to get a job will be very useful in looking at new ideas for the future.
As an initial focus this week, I thought I would highlight a familiar event in my neighbourhood. Entries for the Westpac Auckland South Business Awards 2012 closed last week. I’m hopeful there were plenty of entries. In all the years I’ve attended these awards, the winners have always praised the dedication and effort of their staff for the achievements and successes they received. There have been many examples from these awards of local manufacturers and exporters who had a clear vision for taking on the world and succeeding. Many of these employers have fought tooth and nail in a tough economic climate to retain their staff and boost their businesses in an area formerly called Manukau City.
One company I would like to point out is Fishpond – founded in 2004 by Daniel Robertson and is estimated as New Zealand’s biggest online bookstore. Daniel launched his company six months before graduating from his electrical engineering studies and his business quickly outgrew the family garage. He had 30 staff working in his first warehouse by the Airport when he won the 2009 Young Business Person of the Year Excellence in Business Award. Today Fishpond has graduated to its fourth warehouse, 3000sqm, still by the airport, selling something to an online customer every 7 seconds, adding a new customer every 51 seconds with about 80 staff.
The Fishpond – Daniel Robertson story is in my view such an inspirational story of Kiwi courage and innovation, generating export earnings, creating high valued jobs, that I think we need to be celebrating its successes widely. I think these kinds of successes are important for New Zealand’s economic future and for the Kiwi workforce. I’ve organised to have David Shearer visit Fishpond soon so that our Labour leader can meet Daniel and his team in person and just learn from their experiences. I’m keen on ideas and experiences on how we can best match the skills requirement of companies such as Fishpond with the skills training opportunities for those currently unemployed in the local workforce.
I’m sure there are many other companies in other regions, just as innovative, just as successful, generating export earnings and creating high valued jobs that we would be just as keen to learn about. Let me know if your happy for a visit. Cheers.